A blog of insights, experiences, and expertise from the Apicella-Lorei team and friends.

Building Community Relationships

by: Jessica Stevens

You may recall in years past, that ALO has held an annual pumpkin decorating contest, to raise funds for a local charity.  Our local community is very important to us, so this year we decided that we wanted to do more!!

Have you ever heard about the Highmark Caring Place?  We had not, but they graciously offered our entire team to tour their facility.  We learned about the amazing support that they provide to grieving children, adolescents, and their families.  Losing a family member can be quite difficult.  The Highmark Caring Place is a safe place that they can go to receive the support that they deserve for free.

Therefore, instead of holding our pumpkin decorating contest, we took advantage of our annual team building day, and our entire team created some unique animals at Build-a-Bear.  Our goal is to host an online auction, where we can find good homes for our Build-a-Bear animals, and raise money for the Highmark Caring Place in the process.  Even more, Highmark will match EVERY dollar we donate, so we plan on making this year our biggest donation yet!

Our online auction will begin October 13, 2016, and will run through the close of business on November 17, 2016, National Children’s Grief Awareness Day (more details to follow).  Our animals will be on display in each of our offices, and along with the online auction, we will be holding a best animal contest, where you vote for your favorite animal.  Each entry will be $1.00, and all donations will be donated to the Highmark Caring Place!

Our goal is not only to raise money for the Highmark Caring Place, but to raise awareness about this wonderful organization!

For more information about the Highmark Caring Place, visit: or call 1-866-613-4673.

Team Photo_Highmark Caring Place



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Affordable Summer Fun!

by Jessica Stevens & Linda Hughes

It is finally summer, and your kids are probably excited to be having a break from school, but in a few very short days, you will be hearing the dreaded words “I’m bored”.  While there are so many wonderful activities right outside your front door, it can become quite expensive, especially if you have a bigger family.  But just because visiting amusement parks, movie theaters, water parks, or taking vacations are not in your budget, it does not mean that you cannot have fun this summer!  There are many children’s activities in our area that are either inexpensive or even free!

Did you know that Home Depot often offers a free kids workshop on the first Saturday of each month?  Your child will learn to make fun DIY projects, such as an Angry Birds-themed birdhouse.  Call your local home depot for more information or visit

Are your kids spending too much time playing video games and watching television?  Just turn off the TV and spend a day getting back to nature!  We are fortunate to have many scenic parks, hiking trails, and rails to trails.  It is a great (free) way to get your kids out of the house and spend some quality time together.  You can even pack a picnic lunch and make a whole day of it!

Take a walk on the Appalachian Trail, which extends all of the way from Georgia to Maine.  You can go for the day or plan on stopping at one of the campgrounds along the trail. If you and your family enjoy biking, you can take a ride on one of the many rail trails that Pennsylvania has to offer.  Don’t forget to check out Laurel and Fuller Lakes at Pine Grove Furnace and take in the view at Pole Steeple after a nice hike.  To find trail heads in your area, visit

If you are looking for even more outdoor activities, plan a trip to one of the many scenic parks located right here in Pennsylvania.  With beautiful parks, such as King’s Gap or Gifford Pinchot, you won’t be disappointed.  You can spend the day fishing at Opossum Lake, or cool down by tubing on the Yellow Breeches, where you will enjoy a fun, relaxing ride on the creek.  Visit to find more parks in your area.

Let’s face it, just because it is summer, there are no guarantees that every day will be warm and sunny.  But don’t let that stop you, there are plenty of inexpensive indoor activities that are sure to be a crowd pleaser!  Did you know that many of the local libraries offer all sorts of free activities?  Your kids will not only have fun, but it is also a great opportunity for them to learn something new and maybe even read some new books!   Visit your local library to find out what special events they have to offer.

Don’t forget, if you are planning on taking part in some of the more costly activities, be sure to check out discount websites, such as or, for some amazing deals.  Sometimes just a little advanced planned can provide you with all sorts of great offers!

Regardless of your plans, just be sure to get out and enjoy your summer!!

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